Saturday, March 25, 2017

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Friday, March 24, 2017

By the Gods!

John Drew Barrymore raises the dead in ROME AGAINST ROME (1964, aka War of the Zombies)

I finally got a widescreen copy of this cool film. Now if there was a high definition copy, in Italian or English, it would be fantastic. A very unique PEPLUM film, mixing horror, mysticism and the usual PEPLUM elements.

I'm taking a break. I'll be back soon.

Multiple RIPs

The PEPLUM universe lost more stars in March. Here's a quick rundown of these recent passings.

Tony Russel

Though not considered a big PEPLUM star like Steve Reeves or even Mark Forest, Tony had a good run of PEPLUM films in the latter part of the Golden Era. He died on March 18 at the age of 91.

Russel and Luciana Gilli in SWORD OF DAMASCUS (1964)

Tony with co-stars Piero Lulli and Renato Rossini (aka Howard Ross) in THE SPARTAN GLADIATOR (1964)

Tony with Helga Liné in THE SECRET SEVEN (1963)

Tomas Milian

Tomas Milian was a versatile actor who appeared in countless of films but he's mainly known as a Spaghetti Western films. He was amazing DJANGO KILL...IF YOU LIVE, SHOOT (1967). Tomas died on March 23 at the age of 84.

Milian as Raphael in THE AGONY & THE ECSTASY (1965) 

Millian in MESSALIN, MESSALINA (1977), a typically raunchy PEPLUM sex comedy of the 1970s

Lawrence Montaigne

Lawrence Montaigne was mainly a TV actor but his career started in PEPLUM films. He died on March 17 at the age of 86.

Lawrence in CAPTAIN SINDBAD (1963)

Lawrence in DAMON & PYTHIAS (1962)

Piero Leri

Piero Leri made a handful of PEPLUM films during his sporadic career. His most prominent role was in TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (1961). Piero died on March 2 at the age of 78.

Piero played Prince Iram in the classic TRIUMPH OF MACISTE (1961) starring Kirk Morris (below). His character sets the story forward.

Piero was also in HERCULES AGAINST THE MASKED RIDER starring Mimmo Palmara (1963)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

By the Gods!

A scene from THE LOVES OF PHARAOH (1922)

This believed-to-be lost German silent film, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, resurfaced a couple of years ago and was saved with a careful restoration of the aged film stock into an immaculate digital format. PEPLUM films were big during the silent era. The exotic aspects of the stories gave audiences never-before-seen views of long lost cultures they could only imagine in text, or captured in some paintings. The spectacular sets, costumes and 'cast of thousands' were some of the reasons why this particular genre stood out from the rest. They were truly cinematic in nature. The PEPLUM films of the silent era were the foundation of those made during the Golden Era, between 1949 and 1965. Without films like CABIRIA or this one, the genre wouldn't have been the same.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

By the Gods!

Sadko (Sergei Stolyarov, second from left) meets the Phoenix (Lidiya Vertinskaya) in SADKO

This gorgeous 1953 Russian film was acquired by US distributors, reedited and renamed as THE MAGIC WORLD OF SINBAD (1962). Though the acting is a bit mannered and theatrical, the look of the film is stunning, even when watching it in 2017. The US version is funny because it simply doesn't look like Sinbad (a blond Sinbad?) but that's how it was sold to kids back in the 1960s. I tried to do a Fan Dub of this, using the US English dub track and editing it to the Russian copy but there are so many cuts and scenes re-arranged that I've abandoned it. I do have a Fan Sub of it and might upload it to Youtube, if there are no copyright issues. The film has many singing moments.


Gregory Peck rehearses his lines, with his dog Perry as audience, before shooting a scene from DAVID & BATHSHEBA (1951).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

By the Gods!

Fay Spain is dwarfed by the huge Atlantis set in HERCULES & THE CAPTIVE WOMEN (1961)

One of the biggest sets PEPLUM sets ever built. It's quite impressive, certainly the statue of Uranus, which breaks apart during this scene. This set alone sets this film apart from other PEPLUM films, made in Hollywood or Europe.

Same set, different films

This set was often used in PEPLUM films. Here are two examples. They simply repainted the surface to make it look slightly different.



Monday, March 20, 2017

By the Gods!

Steve Reeves, as Aeneas, in WAR OF THE TROJANS (aka The Avenger ; 1962)

Good film. Maybe not as good as THE TROJAN HORSE (1961), which WAR OF THE TROJANS is its sequel, but it makes a nice companion film though. The biggest liability was the budget. The costumes, the sets don't look as polished as other PEPLUM films. The cast is good and some scenes are well executed and very poignant. But it's one of those films I watch regularly. Just don't expect a mid-range budgeted film. Reeves is excellent and believable as the legendary Aeneas.

Movie Poster Mondays

Alternative English title for SLAVE GIRLS OF SHEBA

A film that is hard to get. The only copy going around is the terrible Black & White one from Something Weird video. If anyone has a good copy of this please email me :

Thursday, March 16, 2017

By the Gods!

Alberto Lupo torments Rosanna Schiaffino and Bob Mathias in THE MINOTAUR

The three main actors of this good PEPLUM adventure (Rik Battaglia also stars in it). I like this film : excellent production, great score, good looking cast, classic story. What more one would want for PEPLUM film? The screenplay could have been a bit more focused but overall it's one of the most solid PEPs of the era. Olympian Mathias' only starring role, while Lupo and Schiaffino were regular stars of the genre. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

By the Gods!

Queen Omphale (Sylvia Lopez) wonders if Hercules (Steve Reeves) is cheating her in his dreams in HERCULES UNCHAINED

Memorable scene, mainly because the two actors had actual chemistry together. Some have said that Sylvia and Steve  had an affair during production (Lopez was married). I have my doubt but when I watch this scene I sorta think it might be true. Great film!


Gordon Scott takes a photo with John Wayne as he visits the set of THE CONQUEROR

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

By the Gods!

The port of Alexandria in CLEOPATRA (1963)

This is a full set with a combination matte painting filling in the whole surrounding area including the background and palm trees. It's quite spectacular but it's a set that was hardly used in the film so why make a huge set like this for 7 minutes or so of a 4 hour film? Seems wasteful. But I like waterfront sets like this one. There' is one waterfront set in CAESAR & CLEOPATRA (1945) but it's not as elaborate as this one.

Giant 3,000-year-old statue of Pharaoh Ramses II found buried in a Cairo slum

Archaeologists from Egypt and Germany have found a massive 26ft (8 metre) statue submerged in ground water in a Cairo slum.

Researchers say it probably depicts revered Pharaoh Ramses II, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. The discovery, hailed by the Antiquities Ministry as one of the most important ever, was made near the ruins of Ramses II's temple in the ancient city of Heliopolis, located in the eastern part of modern-day Cairo.

Daily Mail article

Quite an amazing find. The workmanship on these statues is simply amazing. I doubt anything made today would last that long.

Monday, March 13, 2017

By the Gods!

Dancers from SINBAD & THE CALIPH OF BAGHDAD (1973)

I finally got a nice copy of this film. It's not in HD but it's much better than the one I have in English. I'll be making a Fan Dub of this for sure. The film starts with this scene and for some, what happens in this scene turns them off and they refuse to watch the entire movie. It's a bit jarring but it's a Pietro Francisci film so one should remember this. Pietro directed HERCULES (1958) and many other great PEPLUM films. This was his last film. I like it.

Movie Poster Mondays

Italian poster for MACISTE AGAINST THE CZAR (aka Atlas Against the Czar)

Great artwork but the man doesn't look like Kirk Morris. In fact, he looks more like a star of the 1930s. Odd. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

By the Gods!

Ettore Manni and Yoko Tani in URSUS & THE TARTAR PRINCESS (1961)

An odd PEPLUM. It feels like the leftovers of other films and they cobbled it all up resulting in this final product. Is it bad? No but it's quite forgettable except for a few scenes. Yoko Tani was a popular Japanese actress in the 1960s, having appeared in other genre films, while Ettore was a regular actor of the PEPLUM genre, mostly providing actual acting for the usually non-acting bodybuilders starring in lead roles. The trailer shows a fight between Ursus of said title and a bear but that scene seems to have been obliterated since all of the many copies I have are missing that specific scene. I think the bear would have added much needed 'color' to the somewhat serious story. 

Retro Friday : Busting FOTOBUSTA

(originally posted October 2011)

The point of a photobusta: the busier they are the more eye-catching they will be. 

Well, the one above for TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS caught my attention. Crazy stuff! I love it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

By the Gods!

The Three Stooges are galley slaves in THE THREE STOOGES MEET HERCULES

This scene is one of the better ones in this PEPLUM comedy. The film was shot in Black & White and regular aspect ratio, which was rare back in the day of Cinemascope productions. Columbia Pictures didn't invest that much in it. Even so, the film sorta looks fine sans color. They also used footage from SAPPHO - THE VENUS OF LESBOS, mainly during this scene with exterior shots of the boat. The slave driver displayed by John Cliff. And that's Quinn K. Redeker next to Larry.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

By the Gods!

Indira Varma plays the High Priestess in EXODUS: GODS & KINGS (2014)

I'm always reluctant to watch the latest PEPLUM films released by Hollywood because they have so little to do with what I mostly love about the genre in films made in the past, which is why I waited all this time to watch this Ridley Scott version of the story of Moses and the liberation of Hebrew slaves from their Egyptian rulers. To say that I didn't like it would be an understatement. The few highlights from this was Indira, who seemed to be the only one who 'got' how to play in such a film. Her costume in this scene, and the costume of the entire cast, was an anachronistic mess. I'll write a full review in the near future.


Steve Reeves relaxes during the filming of THIEF OF BAGHDAD (1961)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

By the Gods!

The set of the sacrificial hall in THE PRODIGAL

No matte paintings or models here. It's a full set. Even though it's not one of my favourite PEPLUM films I have to say that the sets and design are excellent (even if they're a bit gaudy). Lana Turner is standing near the High Priest next to the circle of fire. The statue at the top was reused in ATLANTIS - THE LOST CONTINENT.

RIP : Romano Giomini

Italian actor Romano Gemini died on March 1. He was born in 1936. He starred in many films in the 1960s, a lot of them PEPLUM productions. He was mainly known for his recurring role in the Ten Gladiators films. He was charismatic and was always goofing around, in good spirits. This blog was the first to identify him on the internet 5 years ago with IDENTIFYING THE TEN GLADIATORS. People confused him with other actors, or he wasn't listed at all, which is why I made that post.

Romano (with Pietro Torrisi) in THE THEN GLADIATORS (1963)

Romano with Ursula Davis in SPARTACUS & THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964)

Romano having fun with Pietro Torrisi in TRIUMPH OF THE TEN GLADIATORS (1964)


Monday, March 6, 2017

By the Gods!

Antonio Vilar is KING OF THE VIKINGS (1960)

A very rare Spanish production of Vikings. I haven't seen it so I can't comment on it. But it's always fun to see one culture (Spanish) try to evoke another culture (Swedish). If anyone out there has a copy, please contact me.

Movie Poster Mondays

British poster for ESTHER & THE KING

Posters of films released in the UK often had completely different artwork than the (mostly) boring artwork from official  posters from Hollywood studios. This one is no exception (even though that really doesn't looks like any of the actors)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

By the Gods!

Gianna Maria Canale in THE WARRIOR & THE SLAVE GIRL (1958)

Gianna looks great here. This is a film that's good but suffers from several liabilities, the worse being the title (in any language). No title does it justice. The film also includes a couple of sub-plots which aren't very interesting. But overall, for an early PEPLUM film (released the same year as HERCULES), it's pretty cool to look at.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

By the Gods!

José Greci, Virna Lisi and Jacques Sernas in DUEL OF THE TITANS (1961)

Three PEPLUM stars in one photo. José, who appeared as Mary in BEN-HUR (1959), would become a star of the genre. Virna made several films as well, mostly Swashbucklers made in Europe. And Jacques Sernas was one of the unsung heroes of the genre. His big break was starring in HELEN OF TROY (1956), directed by Robert Wise. I love this photo. By the gods!